The Lords may have sewn the seeds of a Remainer revolt in the Commons last night. The peers’ decision to amend the Brexit bill to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK means it will now go back to MPs to consider later this month. Baroness Meacher suggested this morning that as many as 30 Tory MPs could rebel by supporting the amendment, which would add to the potential embarrassment for the Government. She has good reason to know about rebellions given her successful fight in 2015 against the Government over tax credits.
Conservative whips will be working hard in the meantime to ensure these MPs behave, as they hope the Commons will swiftly send it back to the Lords. They won’t want this legislative ping-pong to go on too long. The Lords provided the ping, although Baroness Deech has lamented online how her fellow peers “postured” by doing so. Once the Commons provide the pong, ministers will be delighted if that is the last they see of the match.
Meanwhile, things are looking up for the Liberal Democrats. Tim Farron’s decision to manoeuvre his party into the empty space left by Labour of unabashed Europhilia looks to have paid off handsomely, as the Liberal Democrats have received more money in donations than the Labour party for the first time. Over half of the Lib Dems’ £1.9m haul comes from one of Britain’s richest men, Greg Nasymth. Nonetheless, they’re trying to spin this as evidence that “millions of voices want to be heard” in the fight against Brexit.
Other wealthy Europhiles have been speaking up today too. Gina Miller, the businesswoman who went to court to force the Government to seek Parliament’s approval before it can trigger Article 50, has threatened more legal challenges because she “can’t think of anything better to do” with her fortune. One day, I suggest online, they will realise that no amount of cash can overturn the votes of 17 million people.
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